Fire-fight­ing not sole do­main of men

Vuk'uzenzele - - Yoguetnhefroaclus - Hlengiwe Ngob­ese

more ThaN a ThirD of the short­list of can­di­dates for learn­er­ships in the City of eThek­wini’s fire depart­ment are women.

The City of eThek­wini’s fire-fight­ing learn­er­ship pro­gramme stands to ben­e­fit the women who live there.

The City’s Fire Depart­ment has short­listed about 1 600 peo­ple – 520 of them women – for se­lec­tion for 30 learn­er­ships aimed at ad­dress­ing the City’s short­age of fire fight­ers.

Chief Fire Of­fi­cer Enock Mchunu said it is es­sen­tial that fire fight­ers are well trained to help al­le­vi­ate fires that en­dan­ger the com­mu­nity.

“We train a lot of trainees in this fa­cil­ity. Since 2004 the mu­nic­i­pal­ity has trained more than 350 fire fight­ers. We have 30 va­can­cies to fill but at the end of train­ing the depart­ment may have more va­can­cies to fill and fur­ther de­ci­sions will be taken at that time.”

A pro­fes­sion for a dis­ci­plined team player

Com­ment­ing on the in­clu­sion of women in the depart­ment, Mchunu said there was no longer a dis­tinc­tion based on gen­der – many women work­ing as fire fight­ers had proved crit­ics wrong.

“It is a pro­fes­sion for any per­son who is well dis­ci­plined as an in­di­vid­ual and is ca­pa­ble of work­ing in a team en­vi­ron­ment. The fire brigade is very strict in terms of dis­ci­pline be­cause we deal with peo­ple’s lives and there is no room for be­hav­ing in a man­ner that will com­pro­mise this,” said Mchunu.

Fire­fight­ing is a phys­i­cally de­mand­ing pro­fes­sion and as­pir­ing youth must as­so­ciate them­selves with hard phys­i­cal train­ing regimes. “They must re­frain from sub­stances with a po­ten­tial to af­fect their health and men­tal ca­pac­ity. Youth must as­so­ciate them­selves with their lo­cal fire sta­tions and can re­quest to visit and spend time with fire­fight­ers to ob­serve their rou­tines,” Mchunu added.

Sav­ing lives and prop­erty

Ex­plain­ing the im­por­tant role fire fight­ers play in their com­mu­ni­ties, Mchunu said they save lives, prop­erty and ren­der hu­man­i­tar­ian ser­vices.

“Their daily work en­sures a healthy and safe nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment by con­trol­ling haz­ardous ma­te­ri­als incidents like chem­i­cal spillages, tox­ins and other dan­ger­ous sub­stances where mem­bers of the public would be ex­posed to, in­jured or even die.

“They also res­cue peo­ple trapped in mo­tor ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dents and an­i­mals trapped in trenches and on cliffs.”

Mchunu said when fires break out they re­spond with con­fi­dence and at speed, en­abling the ad­verse ef­fects of fires to be min­imised.

“To re­duce incidents of fire and res­cue, strict en­force­ment of build­ing reg­u­la­tions and fire by-law en­force­ment is the or­der of the day. Fire fight­ers con­duct sched­uled rou­tine fire in­spec­tions. Reg­u­la­tion of the erec­tion and op­er­a­tion of ma­jor haz­ard in­stal­la­tions is part of the work done to pro­tect hu­man life and pre­ven­tion of prop­erty dam­age.”

The eThek­wini Mu­nic­i­pal­ity will train more women as fire fight­ers.

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